Aromatic peppermint (Mentha piperita) has been used for centuries to add flavor or fragrance to foods, cosmetics, toothpaste and mouthwash, soaps, candles, and scented products for the home. Several different cultures also use peppermint leaves, oil, and fresh or dried powder in holistic health preparations.
As a traditional remedy, peppermint is used to awaken the mind and help relieve fatigue. Consider lighting a peppermint scented candle during the busy holiday season. Peppermint is also well known for relief of symptoms associated with the common cold and indigestion; it works by calming the stomach muscles and improving the movement of bile through the digestive system. Some scientific studies indicate that peppermint can improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea. Because the menthol component of peppermint acts as a decongestant, peppermint essential oil is a good choice for use in a diffuser, as a chest rub, or added to a warm bath. Dried peppermint leaves make for an excellent infusion for tea.
It is possible to be allergic to peppermint. Even though it can ease digestive complaints, it may not be appropriate for people who have acid reflux (GERD). Like many other herbs, peppermint can interact with other herbs, prescription medicine, or supplements. Peppermint can affect respiratory function in young children; it should not be used without the supervision of a trained medical aromatherapist. Be sure to consult your health practitioner before adding any form of peppermint (oil, capsule, tea) to your health regimen.
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